NYPA to explore replacing peakers with clean energy technologies

October 15, 2020

by Ethan Howland
October 15, 2020

The New York Power Authority will explore transitioning its natural gas-fired peaking power plants in New York City and Long Island to clean energy technologies, such as battery storage and low to zero carbon emission resources and technologies, under an agreement with a coalition of environmental justice groups.

In an agreement with the PEAK Coalition, a coalition of advocacy groups, NYPA agreed to hire a consultant to explore cleaner options for its fleet of city-wide, peaking power plants, which total 461 megawatts.

“New technologies provide opportunities to include renewable generation and battery technologies in New York City’s electric system to replace, augment and otherwise reduce or eliminate New York City’s reliance on fossil peaker plants over time,” NYPA and the PEAK Coalition said in an agreement outlining the scope of the project.

Replacing the gas-fired units will help New York meet its goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the state’s power fleet by 2040, according to NYPA.

Also, NYPA agreed to pay for consultants to work independently with the PEAK Coalition partners to develop alternative clean energy replacement options, according to the public power utility.

The consultants will study the feasibility of replacing the peaking plants with clean energy options while maintaining grid reliability, according to the agreement.

The agreement calls for the consultants to deliver a report by June 1, if possible. The consultants are slated to be hired via a request for proposals.

Installed in 2001, the power plants operate infrequently — roughly 10 percent of the time or less when directed to do so by the New York Independent System Operator and investor-owned Con Edison Company of New York to meet energy demands, providing local reliability and resiliency, NYPA said.

Replacing the power plants with new technology will lessen or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, NYPA said.

New York City’s peaking power plants, which total about 5,900 MW, produced 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, 1,685 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions and 194 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions, according to a May report by the PEAK Coalition.

The PEAK Coalition says it is spearheading the first effort in the United States to reduce the racially disproportionate health effects of a city’s peaker plants by replacing them with renewable energy and storage.